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How Much Time Should You Really Take Off Work To Fully ‘Recharge Your Batteries’? 

By Lex Barber

Most of us work to live rather than live to work – and no matter how

much you enjoy your job or the industry you work within, it is

important that you take an adequate break from time to time.  

Working in the medical device industry can be stressful; and given

that we know healthy, happy people perform more efficiently at

work, it’s critical that everyone in the business is able to function to

their optimum potential. As an entrepreneur or small business owner,

however, it can be difficult to judge just how much paid time off is

appropriate for both yourself and your employees.

So, what does the science say? Let’s investigate… 

The Legal Requirement for PTO (Paid Time Off) 

It’s fairly well publicized that employees in the US get one of the lowest paid vacation allowances in the world – in fact, the second lowest! According to a global survey in 2022, the States has the fewest paid leave days (statutory time off) and the second-lowest number of paid vacation days worldwide.  

The global average is 18.2 paid vacation days from work alone, but America stipulates just 10 paid public holidays and 10 paid vacation days. In comparison, Iran, the world’s ‘best’ for paid time off sees citizens benefit from 27 paid public holidays and 26 paid vacation days. 

As a business owner, you have zero legal commitment to offer paid vacation for employees – as the US remains the only developed country in the world with no statutory paid leave. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) does not require payment for any time not worked: be that federal holidays or vacation time. However, that’s not to say it doesn’t happen often and for many is considered a perk of a role. It’s believed that over 70% of private sector employers do offer paid vacation leave, although the exact amount of days at stake varies hugely. 

Why Offer Paid Time Off – For Yourself and Employees? 

While there may not be a legal requirement for small business to offer paid time off, there are lots of benefits to doing so. 

With the internet now connecting people worldwide, it’s fairly well understood that those working in the US are balling low when it comes to vacation time – and so employees are more aware than ever that they’d get more elsewhere. As a result, offering paid vacation time reinforces an employer’s positive reputation as a great place to work and may find it can attract talent better than its competitors.  

What’s more, evidence from studies suggest that offering paid time off to employees reduces unscheduled absences, increases autonomy and results in higher morale generally. This is no surprise when you consider the improved work-life balance achieved.

But it’s worth remembering this applies to business owners and entrepreneurs just as much as it does the staff they employ. 

Paid Time Off for Small Businesses… What Works?

A recent survey by Ondeck Capital showed that only 57% of small business owners planned to take a vacation in the foreseeable future, and another by Xero reported that 85% of those who do then admitted to working while they were away: with 60% checking in daily proactively.  

The truth is there’s no ‘average’ amount of paid vacation time on offer for small businesses in the US, although it’s been reported that 55% of small business owners take less than 2 weeks a year (10 working days) themselves. 

What’s appropriate for one person may not be for another, as everyone balances their own physical, mental and emotional needs both in and out of the workplace differently. Generally speaking, the countries with the highest happiness ratings (largely Scandinavian territories) offer between 30-35 days per annum. This, of course, seems a large leap from the standard zero in the US, and for many businesses, would have dire financial consequences if introduced right away. 

It’s important that when paid vacation time is being taken that the time away from the workplace is spent in a way that’s as beneficial to the individual as possible in order for the most possible value to be derived from it. There’s no way of ensuring this is the case for employees, but when it comes to managing your own time, there are strategies that can be used to ensure you get the most possible from your vacation. 

To Digital Detox Or Screen Time Test?

With so many business owners checking in even while out-of-office, an enforced digital detox may prove more stressful or disruptive than not. If clear and firm delegation has been made within the business and there is a way of making contact with the owner in the case of an emergency, a full vacation without work may be possible – but if it’s likely to induce stress, it can be avoided by instead trying out limits on work/screen time or setting boundaries on involvement. This is very much a personal choice, but work-life balance must be considered. 

Set Intentions for your Vacation

If the majority of your time usually is swallowed up by business matters, a vacation may be easily disrupted by it too. Setting intentions for your time off and ensuring that your priorities change while you’re away can help you achieve new headspace: be it to spend time with family, achieve a non-work-related goal or just keep business worries out of your head for 50% of the day! 

Start Small

If you’ve never taken a significant break from the business before, doing so may feel daunting. There’s no need to book a month’s cruise or long-haul flight in order to benefit from some time away. Instead, consider a city break for a few days or even a single spa day elsewhere. Once you’re in the habit of taking physical and mental time out, this can be built upon until a healthier balance is found. 


Time away from the workplace doesn’t necessarily have to mean a beach holiday or time around a poo. ‘Staycationing’ can involve time at home working on renovations or changes (which will benefit your out-of-work life in a different way) or simply acting as a tourist in your hometown to discover new experiences. This way, you’re close by should you need to intervene into something in the office but still physically removed from the space. 

There’s no one-size-fits-all solution for paid time off and exactly how long works best for you is dependent on your individual circumstances. However, evidence definitely suggests that some time is always beneficial and so perhaps starting small and testing the waters is the best approach taken.  

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